Having interviewed Julie Cunningham I knew this was going to be a unique piece, but even so I was not prepared for the production.
The informality of the piece was somewhat novel for the audience. From sitting on the floor to getting the perfect snap story, the atmosphere was truly unlike anything we had seen before. The performance opened with Brutal, a solo performed by Julie. In this piece Julie was supposed to ‘inhabit the position of a masculine working class body’. However this was not at all clear from either the choreography or the costume, the headpiece of which made her look more like a raven than a man. The music, by Anna Appleby, was truly bizarre and can only be described as non-linear. The minimalism worked well in balance with the vast backdrop of the city, but Brutal seemed neither like dance, nor like ordinary working class life.
” if you allow the dance to play out without searching for meaning, then you’ll leave with an intangible meditative feeling”
The introduction of more dancers for the group piece Your Ten Thousand Eyes, seemed much more promising. The four dancers stood facing the river, admiring the view with the minutest choreography. This almost created a meditative state, allowing the audience time to absorb the surrounding sights and sounds. Defiantly contemporary, Your Ten Thousand Eyes utilised contact improvisation, as opposed to the traditional pas de deux. The four dancers were paired by gender, man to man and woman to woman. The piece explored syncopation, bringing the subtle differences between each pair to the fore. Whilst lacking a narrative, the piece did bring attention to the audience’s traditional ideals of dance, as each gendered pair brought forth different aspects of the choreography.
Rambert presents Julie Cunningham and Company is not a production that can easily be defined. You have to enter this production with an open mind, and allow the choreography to guide you through. To be frank, if you do not like experimental dance then this is not the show for you, but if you allow the dance to play out without searching for meaning, then you’ll leave with an intangible meditative feeling.
Image: Emily Baxter-Derrington